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NSF Launches 2026 Idea Machine

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 - 13:51

This post is adapted from an NSF press release:

NSF Launches 2026 Idea MachineIf you've ever had an idea about how the National Science Foundation (NSF) could transform fundamental research, a huge window of opportunity is about to open. From 31 August through 26 October 2018, the foundation will open the entry window for its first-ever NSF 2026 Idea Machine, a competition that gives entrants a chance to help inform the agenda for basic research, through the Nation's 250th anniversary in 2026 and beyond.

NSF is looking for fresh ideas — large in scope and different from what the foundation already does. These ideas should address compelling challenges in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

How big can your proposed idea be? NSF wants ideas for broad areas of research that would require a long-term commitment — 10 years or more — and potentially transform a research area through new explorations and creative inquiry.

A submission to the Idea Machine should be ambitious. It should be an idea that contributes to NSF's mission to support basic research in a way that ultimately fuels the nation's economy, enhances its security and sustains US global leadership in science and engineering. Progress toward addressing research in that area should have a significant impact on science and society.

"Scientific creativity and innovation have no bounds. Everyone in the scientific community, from middle schoolers to emeriti professors, as well as anyone who loves science in the general public have ideas about the future and what might be possible," said Suzi Iacono, head of NSF's Office of Integrative Activities. "We want to harness those rich imaginations through an approach that's totally new for NSF, but also in keeping with our tradition of reaching out into the community to find fresh, new ideas that have the potential to benefit science and society."

NSF 2026 is one of the agency's 10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments. NSF's goal is to select two to four winning entries from the Idea Machine. Winning entries will receive $26,000 and their authors will be honored at an event in Washington, DC. But the real prize is the opportunity to promote the progress of science and engineering by helping NSF identify a new area of research. NSF could use winning entries from the Idea Machine to help shape programs, or research agendas — perhaps becoming the next Big Idea in need of long-term investment by the foundation.

See the NSF 2026 Idea Machine website for all the details, rules, and eligibility requirements.

Hua Liu
Director of Communications and Marketing
American Astronomical Society (AAS)